LONG ISLAND — A 12-year-old boy has died after falling from a sailboat and being struck by the propeller in the waters off Long Island, officials say.
It happened around 3 p.m. in Northport Harbor at the Centerport Yacht Club.
Suffolk County officials say three students were in a sailboat taking lessons when their boat was intentionally capsized as part of the lesson. All were wearing life jackets.
But the lesson took a tragic turn when the 18-year-old instructor, who was in a Zodiac boat, motored over to help one of the struggling boys from the water.
He pulled the boy from the water into his own boat. The boy was sitting on the back of the boat when the instructor accelerated and the boy then fell, right into the propeller.
“It’s a matter of seconds. He pulls the child on board, everything is good. He’s sitting down, and the instructor want to - and just a little bit of acceleration, and a little bit of wake, and a little bit of turn, was enough to make the child fall overboard,” said Det. Sgt. James Scimone, Suffolk County Police Department.
Police say the teenage sailing instructor immediately pulled the badly injured boy out of the water and began administering CPR.
But it was too late, the boy was pronounced dead at Huntington Medical Center.
“I feel bad for the parents. I feel bad for the kid,” said Suffolk County resident Artie Wexler.
Young members of the Yacht Club, many of them distraught, could be seen coming off the dock, and getting into their parents’ vehicles.
“Nobody is at fault. The instructor is a young instructor, and he was doing everything he was taught to do, as he was instructed to do. And a terrible accident happened today. And everybody feels bad about it,” Scimone said.
The two other boys who were on the boat were not injured. Police say a witness who saw the badly injured boy being brought to shore was treated for shock.